Sunday, February 10, 2013

Closed for Repairs ...

Today I got out early for a ride in the snow in Philly. It was really cold when I started (around 7:30 or so) - I think the thermometer in my car said it was 17 degrees, but there was also an icy wind that made my face burn almost as soon as I started moving. And there was a lot of ice on the trail early on, which made for some exciting sections.

Both climbs and descents are more exciting when they look like this 

But none of that took anything away from the ride itself. After the first hour, in fact, things started to warm up and for most of the ride I didn't feel even the twinge in my fingers and toes that I usually do this time of year.

The longer I rode, the more the sun shone and the temps climbed

Moreover, the whole park was beautiful today.

Mornings like this will make anyone a fan of winter

And as an added bonus, I had a classic slow-motion endo and when OTB while riding the rock garden on the north side of Bell's Mill near Chestnut Hill College. So, yeah, a more or less perfect day!

All in all, I probably got a good 25 miles in this morning. And that was a good thing, too, because today was the last time I'll get to do any kind of ride for the next few weeks or so.

On Tuesday morning, I'm going in for an outpatient procedure to fix a deviated septum and repair both concha. It's not that big of a deal as operations go, but there is the possibility that it could have a pretty significant impact on my overall quality of life.

For as long as I can remember, I've had sinus issues. I'm pretty much clogged all the time, I get sinus infections easily, and I have to perpetually clear my throat. And when I ride, I absolutely cannot ever breathe through my nose under effort. I just can't get enough oxygen that way. In fact, when the doctor first examined me in my initial consult for the surgery, she told me I was almost 100% blocked (and I was actually feeling pretty good that day!) When we started taking yoga last year, one of the pranayamas we learned was alternate nostril breathing, and I had a lot of trouble with it from the start -- I simply could not breathe in or out of the right side. So this year, after dealing with pretty severe rebound effects from a growing addiction to Mucinex nasal spray, I decided it was finally time to do something about all of it.

Why didn't I do it before? Well, I'd been putting it off for a long time because I had always heard that the recovery time was substantial (about 6 to 8 weeks) on a procedure that really isn't a guaranteed lifelong fix and I just didn't think I could handle that kind of down time. It turns out that's not true, by the way -- the actual recovery time is about a week, and I should be able to return to full activity in two or three weeks (assuming I don't screw up the healing process.) There is always the possibility that I could develop sinus issues again after the procedure, but to be honest, I don't really view that as any reason not to get it fixed the first time. If it happens again. I'll deal with that then. Right now it's the right time to deal with this stuff.

Another thing the doctor told me during my consult is something that's stayed with me since the appointment. She told me that, in all likelihood, I have no idea what it feels like to breathe normally. Wow. That would really be something. And that's what I meant when I said this could be life-changing. I mean, I'm realistic. I'm not looking for the lung capacity of a pro athlete or anything. I'm just hoping to be able to breathe through my nose without feeling like I packed it up with cheese cloth first. And my wife will be perfectly happy if the only improvement is that I no longer keep her awake at night with my snoring.  But I honestly have no idea what to expect. The thought that I may have never breathed properly and that I could change all that with this operation is really interesting. And exciting.

The less exciting part is that I will be off the bike and out of the gym for the next few weeks. The last time I had that kind of downtime for even a week was possibly more than three years ago, when I had Lyme Disease. I think I've been on a bike at least one day a week every week since then (and most weeks quite a bit more than that) and I'm in the gym at least three days a week every week. Like I've said before, I don't handle down time very well, so I'm not looking forward to this recovery time. But considering the possibilities, I think it's definitely worth it.

So I'll be down for repairs for a little while. I'll be looking forward to getting back up and running as soon as possible, but I'm not going to rush it or do anything stupid just to get back out before I'm ready. Besides, this may be a good chance to catch up on some reading and get some stuff done at home that I always say I'd do if I had more time.  So it may be a few weeks until I can say "see you on the trails" again, so instead I'll just say, "Enjoy the ride everybody! Now get out there and go!"


  1. Glad you're finally fixing the As and Bs (airway and breathing) of your A, B, Cs (airway, breathing, circulation).

    Now if we can just get you through the downtown patiently, smoothly ...

  2. Oh and by downtown, I meant the business district...on the way back home from the hospital...gotta be patient....traffic should go smoothly...yeah, that's what I meant.

  3. Hey man, best wishes for a quick and successful recovery! You're going to be tearing the trails up soon enough.